When you see top-line growth of 21.8%, the first thing that might come to mind is, "Well, that sure seems like more of a sprinter's pace than a Sunday jog." It is important to note, however, that the recent Saucony acquisition is the primary reason this figure is abnormally high.
Neither the earnings report nor the company conference call provided us with year-ago comparisons for its Saucony division, so we don't know what its growth rate was year over year. But we do know that only one other line posted high-double-digit growth, and that was Sperry Top-Sider, with 21%. Total Children's Group sales, including both wholesale and retail, were actually down 3%. Its Keds division also saw declines, dropping 8% from the year-ago level. And rounding out the trifecta of weakness was Tommy Hilfiger, which witnessed an 18% smackdown.
There are various reasons for the weakness in these latter divisions, many of which are either related to tough year-ago comparisons or from a shift in the Easter holiday season. The most worrisome may be Tommy Hilfiger revenues, since management indicated that shoe sales are being dragged by a general decline in the brand. Stride Rite must have some hope, however, since it's planning on renewing its license with Tommy Hilfiger for 2007 and beyond.
What came across most clearly in the conference call is Stride Rite's efforts to improve sales to children. It will use new brands, new products, and new distribution channels to increase its presence among younger generations. It sees Saucony as playing a big role in this -- its Spring 2007 lineup will have new shoes specifically targeted to children.
No doubt Stride Rite sees its Saucony acquisition as a key vehicle to its future success. Prospective investors and shareholders will want to continue monitoring this integration, particularly to see whether the brand can indeed lift up sales among youth.
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Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not have any financial interest in any companies mentioned.
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